Berkeley Co. offices drying out after storm

September 28, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County's government offices were drying out on Thursday after Wednesday's severe thunderstorm exposed drainage and roofing problems that have jumped in front of plans to expand the county's judicial center.

At least four gallons of water were vacuumed from the Berkeley County Planning Department's office suite in the Dunn Building, where it streamed into the file room and reception area from the roof, according to department director Stefanie Allemong.

The water damaged the department's log book, plat maps and other items, but Allemong said the paperwork was scanned into the department's computer system and the equipment was not damaged.

"I don't think (Facilities Supervisor Jay Russell) wants to spend any more nights in here mopping water," Commissioner Ronald K. Collins said.


In wake of the leaks, Collins suggested the Commission consider replacing the Dunn Building roof a top priority and revisit the second phase of the judicial center at a later time.

"This is definitely No. 1," Collins said before he and Commissioners Steven C. Teufel and William L. "Bill" Stubblefield voted to reject the bids for the judicial center project because they exceeded cost estimates. The $12.8 million bid by W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. of Martinsburg was the lowest of three submitted, but officials said it was more than a million than the projected cost to complete the judicial center expansion.

In a memo to the commission, County Administrator Deborah Hammond recommended the bids be rejected because a grant application with the state to pay for replacing the Crawford Building's roof still was pending.

In addition to the Dunn Building's water leak, commissioners were briefed by Prosecuting Attorney Pamela J. Games-Neely on the flooding in her suite on the first floor of the judicial center complex at 380 W. South St.

Games-Neely showed commissioners where water came up through holes in the floor of the law library. The holes were drilled as part of the installation of the public-use elevator and apparently were not sealed when the work was completed, the commissioners learned. Exactly how many holes need to be plugged was not immediately clear, officials said.

Games-Neely and her staff told the commissioners that they were able to remove computer equipment and law books from harm's way, but indicated a few bookcases might have received some water damage. Efforts to dry the carpet and remove potential mold-causing moisture continued Thursday afternoon.

The basement leaks in the new building came little more than a year after storm water from Tropical Storm Ernesto damaged carpet on the judicial center's first floor before it opened. Pumps that were to be replaced in the dry moat around the building as part of the renovation project failed to function when the storm swept through and allowed the flooding to happen, officials had said.

The new pumps that replaced them functioned correctly on Wednesday, officials said.

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